By Lin Taylor

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The British public's trust in charities is the lowest it has ever been, according to a survey published on Tuesday by the government's charity watchdog, with international aid agencies, such as Oxfam and the Red Cross, the least trusted.

Confidence in charities dropped to 5.7 points out of ten, the lowest figure ever recorded by the Charity Commission, which said action must be taken to restore confidence in the sector.

In a survey of 1,000 British people, 93 percent thought charities played an important role in society, and around 60 percent believed charities to be trustworthy, down from 71 percent in 2014 when the survey was last conducted.

Three-quarters of respondents said fundraising methods used by charities made them feel "uncomfortable", and around one-fifth of respondents said they did not trust that donations were reaching those in need. Around 67 percent said charities spent too much on salaries and administration.

"Charities play a vital role in society and this report shows that the public still overwhelmingly believe that," William Shawcross, the commission's chairman, said in a statement.

"But public support cannot be taken for granted and these results show that action is needed to restore public confidence."

Respondents in the survey said they were not sure how money given to international aid agencies was spent and whether donations made were making a difference.

"The public wants to see charities explain more and account better for how they manage and spend their money," Sarah Atkinson, the Commission's Director of Policy and Communications, said in a statement.

"There is more work to do to win back trust."

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, and climate change. Visit to see more stories)